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Gov. Gary Herbert made the cover of Penthouse, the latest move by major pornographers to retaliate against a new state resolution calling porn a "public health crisis."
The July/August edition of the magazine is labeled "The Shameless Issue," and its biggest headline is "Utah's governor wants to handle your penis." Herbert's face isn't on the cover instead it is an image of model Noelle Monique in front of an American flag.
The magazine's editor, Raphie Aronowitz, sent copies of the magazine to Herbert's office and to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Since the Mormon church brings its unsolicited moral, religious and political values to our doorstep, we decided to return the favor," Aronowitz said.
Hustler, a competitor to Penthouse, began sending copies of its magazine to Utah's state lawmakers in June at the request of its famous founding publisher Larry Flynt. At that time, Evan Roosevelt, a spokesman for Flynt, said the point was to prove that the magazine isn't dangerous.
"Utah, in our eyes and [Flynt's] eyes, is only dragging this out to satisfy religious zealots in the state, so we wanted to remind everyone that this is not a crisis, but a political opportunity for legislators," he said.
Both magazines are responding to Utah's SCR9, sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross. The resolution didn't enact any legal measures limiting pornography, but declared porn a pressing societal problem worthy of further study.
Penthouse paid Andy Campbell, a reporter with Huffington Post, to write the cover story, which is titled "The Mormon war on porn is coming for you," and includes a full page picture of the cover of The Book of Mormon.
The story argues the resolution is based on faulty science and was a waste of time for a state with serious air pollution, child abuse and suicide problems.
"Nobody wants to show their young children pornography, much like nobody wants their toddler driving to preschool," the article states. "By the same token, nobody wants their government or that government's preferred religion to define their sexuality. Even the LDS Church touts free agency and 'the privilege of choice which was introduced by God.'"
On this point, Penthouse and Weiler agree.
"I've never pretended to ban pornography for adults. I think adults have the right to choose," he said. "Everything I've done with pornography has been about protecting children and, hopefully, Penthouse isn't selling their magazine to children."
He suggests that the government should treat pornography like it does tobacco, restricting access to children and issuing warnings about potentially harmful effects.
Penthouse didn't contact Weiler for the story.
"I guess they feel a little bit threatened by what I've done," he said.
Herbert spokesman Jon Cox said: "If a magazine like Penthouse is taking you to task, that's always a good sign that you're on the right side of history.… The fact that the industry feels so threatened by a non-binding resolution meant to raise awareness of this problem shows you just how desperate they must be."
The LDS Church did not respond to a request for comment.
Weiler said he didn't talk to Mormon officials or Herbert about his resolution when he ran it during the session earlier this year.
But Aronowitz, the editor of Penthouse, argues this resolution is driven by Mormon religious values.
"The Mormon church has a longstanding tradition of repression and control over its local residents in Utah," he said. "It has now permeated the roots of local and national politics, and influenced policy."
In a parting shot, the magazine has a 12-page photo spread titled "Sister Wives," where two models first appear in outfits intended to make them look like polygamists before they disrobe.